Jack London Square closer to realizing its potential

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It was so easy to enjoy this past sun-splashed weekend at Jack London Square, it was not hard to see that an Oakland waterfront ballpark would be a total success.

Tens of thousands of revelers visited the Square this weekend for a slate of events, concerts and a festival. First, Jack London hosted the 2nd annual NorCal Session Beer Festival on Saturday, as thousands of beer-lovers soaked in the sun and the suds offered by more than 30 Bay Area breweries.

Later that night, the Oakland East Bay Symphony sold out its presentation of “Bach & Brew” — a classical music performance at Linden Street Brewery by the Port of Oakland. When Linden opens its brewery backdoor, it faces directly onto the Howard Terminal ballpark site, right on the water. Hundreds attended “Bach & Brew” with nary a problem.

Then, New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint played Yoshi’s Oakland throughout the weekend. Toussaint, a legendary performer, songwriter and producer, stayed near the Oakland waterfront and was seen Sunday dining at Lungomare, which is just a guitar-pick toss away from Howard Terminal.

Also, the Farmer’s Market is held there every Sunday, which also draws thousands of people each week. As do the restaurants and bars – Haven, Centouno, Forge, Lungomare, Chop Bar, Boccanova, Encuentro and others – that have popped up there the past five years.

But get this: Even more are on the way. Developers are planning a 49,000-square-foot restaurant-pub-entertainment center in the vacant bookstore where Broadway meets the Square. It will feature a restaurant-pub with bowling lanes, a large beer garden and bocce ball courts, the SF Business Journal says.

And more plans are in the pipeline. The Oakland Tribune’s Matthew Artz reports on plans to build 665 apartments in two residential towers — one 17 stories, the other 26 stories – amid the restaurants, bars and offices at Jack London Square. That would provide the Square some of the residential density that the Fox Theater and Jerry Brown’s 10K plan have brought to downtown Oakland.

Now, you might be getting fatigued with us writing about Oakland’s renaissance. Sorry, we’re not tired of it, because Oakland’s business boom keeps getting hotter and hotter, and that’s a beautiful thing. We don’t run out of positive Oakland things to talk about because the new businesses, bars, restaurants, cafes and tech companies just keep coming and coming. We actually can barely keep up with it.

Jack London Square’s full potential has yet to be totally realized, most agree on that. But rest assured, that day is coming, because the area is growing by leaps and bounds just about every week. It’s why the Square had thousands of visitors this weekend, enjoying its growing, fun and safe entertainment economy.

Jack London Square already is really cool, drawing more visitors and tourists than given credit for. And if you add an A’s ballpark to the area — as some of Oakland’s most powerful, deep-pocketed business leaders are working hard to deliver – then Jack London Square will finally become the waterfront powerhouse it was intended to be.

Just ask the thousands of people who routinely visit it.

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One thought on “Jack London Square closer to realizing its potential

  1. OK, I’ll bite. What are these powerful, deep-pocketed business leaders working so hard at? Are they ponying up the money for a ballpark, or for anything related to building one? Or are they just talking a lot?

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